Tennis

Wozniacki sets up Sharapova showdown

Caroline Wozniacki set up a third-round clash with Maria Sharapova after easing past Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-3 in a one-sided clash at the Australian Open yesterday.

Wozniacki, the defending champion, took just over an hour to secure her second consecutive straight-set win for a match-up between two former world No. 1s.

Sharapova, meanwhile, brushed aside Sweden's Rebecca Peterson 6-2, 6-1 in a later match.

The Russian, 31, broke her 23-year-old opponent twice in the opening set and peppered the court with powerful groundstrokes in a superb display of hitting.

Wozniacki was also in fine form.

She made just 12 unforced errors in her second-round match against a player who constantly switched up her tactics in an ultimately unsuccessful bid to break down the brick-wall defence of her higher-ranked opponent.

Wozniacki wobbled early in the second set, after being unable to convert a series of break-points in the opening game, before settling back into her rhythm and running away with the match.

"I thought it was a fine match," said Wozniacki, who is battling rheumatoid arthritis. "I think she stepped it up a little bit in the second set. I think I served well."

The meeting between Wozniacki, the third seed, and 30th-seeded Sharapova promises to be the standout match in the first week.

"It's a tough third round but I've set up the challenge and I'm willing to take it," Sharapova said.

There is no love lost between the pair.

Wozniacki has been in the top echelon of women's tennis for a decade but won her first Grand Slam singles title in Melbourne at the start of last year.

Sharapova was suspended for 15 months for taking banned drug meldonium in 2016.

Wozniacki questioned the way the WTA handled Sharapova's return from her drugs ban in 2017 and was furious when she was bumped from the show court in favour of the Russian at that year's US Open.

It prompted a withering response from Sharapova after Wozniacki's elimination: "I'm in the fourth round. I don't know where she is."

Meanwhile, second seed Angelique Kerber also cruised to the third round after 6-2, 6-3 win against Beatriz Haddad Maia. She meets Australia's Kimberly Birrell next. - REUTERS, AFP


Women's singles, 2nd round

From 8am:

  • V. Kuzmova v E. Svitolina (x6)
  • S. Halep (x1) v S. Kenin
  • N. Osaka (x4) v T. Zidansek

From 4pm:

  • E. Bouchard v S. Williams (x16)
  • J. Konta v G. Muguruza (x18)

* Selected ties, all in S'pore time

Tennis